Silent Saturday: Easter 2018

 

EasterWeekPrayer

Photograph by Donna Harris

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”  (Revelation 5:11)

There was so much grief and sadness this Silent Saturday. So many fears and doubts. Questions unanswered … yet.

We’re not alone in not fully understanding God’s silence. The disciples had lost hope completely. They were confused and shocked by the silence of that Saturday. Their doubt caused them to abandon the cause completely and perhaps stop believing in what Jesus taught.

But despite the silence, Jesus promises that joy is coming. In our times of pain, grief, misunderstanding, and confusion… In our moments where we are left wallowing in the silence of God and unanswered prayers… When we are stuck in our Saturdays-the days following our darkest moments, we can hold on to this promise-one that Jesus gave his disciples some 2000 years ago: joy is coming. A joy that no one can take away. [1]

“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. ” John 16:20-22

This is my prayer today … to praise Jesus Christ the Son of God—Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, King of kings, and Lord of lords.

Time is drawing near and God is making all things new, (Revelation 21:5) He will create a clean heart in me.  If I were to stand before Him and gaze into His holiness, in all of His glory, I would fall down dead. Yet God welcomes me to His throne and says, “Do not be afraid” (Revelation 1:17).

I repeat those four words, do not be afraid and I am overcome with worship and praise because I am held firmly in His tender grasp until the final moments of my life.

The silence of Saturday will soon be shattered with the shouts of Sunday: “The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!” Hallelujah, many times over.

Worthy is the Lamb

Photograph by Donna Harris. Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis, IN

[1] Margaret Feinberg

 

Good Friday: Easter 2018

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Photograph by Donna Harris

Today is Good Friday when we have the privilege of fixing our gaze on the giver of life, our Redeemer, the one who has rescued us from ourselves. He came, God-incarnate, to save us to the extreme, as man to die our death. Herein is love to the utmost. For God so loved the world he gave. “Herein is love; when I cannot rise to him he draws near on wings of grace, to raise me to himself.”

In a world of created changeable things, only God alone remains unshaken, unchanging. Only God alone remains true to his promise, for what he says, he will do.  He struck the head of evil. He has not left us here without grace. The cross still stands. The grave is still empty.

Where do we begin to offer our gratitude, love, and praise in response to what Jesus did for us on the cross? We refer to today as, Good Friday yet we cannot fully fathom nor comprehend the immense goodness of His love for us.

Good Friday 2018 2

Photograph by Donna Harris

While on the cross, Jesus cried out for God to forgive us as He took all of our sins upon himself. He became sin for us, that in him, we might become the righteousness of God.  (2 Cor. 5:21). The vast goodness of this day is that we are fully forgiven because Christ was fully forsaken. Open your heart to see Him as Savior, to believe quickly…receiving His grace and a living hope just as He promised the robber hanging on a criminal’s cross next to him.

He came to rescue us, to give us life by giving up His. “It is finished,” he cried. The old has passed away and the new has come. There’s nothing more to be done, concerning our salvation, once and for all, perfectly and fully, we have been reconciled to God.

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Photograph by Donna Harris

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“It’s Friday — Sunday is near” Watercolor painting by Donna Harris

 

Quotes to think about:

I’ve never understood why people call the day that Jesus died “Good Friday.” What was good about it? It looks like a tragedy to me. You’re right, up to a point: If all we had to celebrate was that final Friday when Jesus was put to death, there certainly wouldn’t be anything good about it. In that case, the term “Good Friday” would be a mockery. Instead, that final Friday would be the greatest tragedy in the history of the human race. Satan would have won, and any hope the human race might have had for the future would be ended.

But that Friday was not the end! Two days later, the tomb was empty, and Jesus was alive! And that’s why we can call it “Good Friday” … because on a day that first seemed tragic, something incredibly good happened … Christ gave his life for our salvation. [1]

Many of us, as we learn to know Christ in his sufferings, can only begin to have the moral imagination, the faith, to truly recognize that it was our sins that caused his death and necessitated the utter and absolute separation from his Father. Those of us who have been brought to the end of ourselves through life’s difficulties, personal failure and providential discipline can appropriate, by faith and repentance, the full measure of Christ’s redeeming grace. [2]

Still & quiet & bow slow & see Him now…
By His love — you are held,
By His mercy — you are washed clean,
By His relentless grace — you are saved.
And by His wounds — you are healed. [3]

[1] Billy Graham | [2] Adrienne Shore | [3] Ann VosKamp

 

Tuesday of Holy Week: Easter 2018

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“My Father’s Garden” Watercolor painting of camellias by Donna Harris Art

Then you shall call and the Lord will answer; then you shall cry and he will say, “Here I am.” Isaiah 58:9

Your brokenness and sin are not something you can overcome so that you can walk with God. They are the occasions for you to cry out for the life of God in you to rescue you. Not God outside you, up in the sky somewhere. Christ in you, your only hope of glory. Let this sink in: Jesus has no intention of letting you become whole apart from his moment-to-moment presence in your life. [1]

The good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is regardless of our circumstances, we get God, and he’ll be enough. On the day of trouble, we’ll cry out, and we will hear, “Here I am.” When marriage is difficult, and we cry out, we will hear, “Here I am.” On the day the doctor says, “Can you come in? We need to talk,” we will hear as we cry out to God, “Here I am.”

He will not abandon. He will not quit, and he will not cut out his children. He is ever present, ever chasing, ever hoping, ever putting his Holy Spirit’s power into us to sustain us and hold us up regardless of life’s circumstances. This is how he blesses those who are saturated in grace. He is present. He is enough. [2]

We bless you, Father, for the gift of Jesus—for his perfect life lived for us, and his judgment-exhausting death on the cross. Thank you for forgiving us, and for declaring us righteous in Christ, and for promising to finish your grace-full work of salvation in us. [3]

Isaiah 58:9

Photograph by Donna Harris 

[1] Beautiful Outlaw, John Eldridge, p. 207   [2] Matt Chandler, Grace Made Visible, Part 1 [3] Scotty Smith, The Convicting, Liberating, Transforming Work of God’s Grace, TGC   

With Our Eyes Looking Up

New Will Come

While enjoying a walk with a friend on a cool, windy afternoon, I stopped to take a picture of dried out leaf petals hanging from thin stems of a tree. He asked me, “Why did you take a photo of that? What is it that you like about bare trees with old brown leaves?”

I think old brown leaves are beautiful. Every tree is a piece of art, wearing delicate leaves like jewelry. I like the frailty of the leaf petals that would crush easily in my hand, yet there is strength in each one with hanging on to the stem, even the brisk wind has not set it free. Look at each petal and see the life that lingers. I like the shimmer of sunlight through each petal. I love the different shades of brown and tan against a glorious bright blue sky. And I had to be looking up to see it, instead of looking down at the path we are walking on. When I notice the old dry and dying things, it makes me more aware that new will come. Don’t you see?

The wind was cold. My nose began to drip. He smiled and said, “I see.” We pulled our jackets tight around our neck and began to walk together with our eyes looking up.

New Will Come 3

 

 

Remembering him in my prayers

Remembering him in my prayers

Remembering him in my prayers | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 29

Today’s Reading: Ephesians 1 – end

Remembering you in my prayers…I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened… Ephesians 1:15 – 23 (NIV)

Fast and furious, he maneuvers the skate board down the steep hill. The thrill of speed and wind and conquering the downhill ride is all that matters. He can do it! And he does this well…for days and weeks and months the adrenaline pulses with each victory. There is no fear of danger, just the triumph of victory over that hill.

And then one day, he crashes.

It’s the simple things that become the biggest thing that bends the knee. A deep cut, a nasty scrape to the head, a broken bone. The physical trauma becomes our spiritual cause to pray. And our prayers are fervent and relentless for his physical healing.

Years pass and he becomes a man baring those scars deep on his skin from the adventures that sent his parents to their knees. He is now a man, maturing through the resilience of pressing on, for he has been faced with much more than physical brokenness.

And then one day he crashes.

It’s the complex things that become the biggest thing that bend the knees to pray. His spiritual trauma becomes our cause to pray. Our prayers are fervent and relentless for a true vibrant grace-giving healing in his life.

The gift is answered through our prayers: “Father, grant him a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of yourself. Please, don’t leave him to himself. Help him to feel awe and trembling and sense your beauty and sweetness and glory. Have mercy and by your Spirit awaken in him a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that when he reads or hears your wisdom and your words he will have ears to hear and eyes to see the wonder of it.”

This is a prayer that keeps on praying and keeps on seeing God answer. Through the storms and through the fray he is knowing the Lord Jesus Christ better and better.

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better... Ephesians 1:15 – 23 (NIV) 

Prayers for him

[1] An adapted prayer for my family from, Desiring God |  Be Constant in Prayer for the Joy of Hope

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge

Preoccupied With This Treasure

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Preoccupied With This Treasure | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 27

Today’s Reading: 2 Corinthians 1 – end

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7 (ESV)

“We have this treasure in jars of clay,” we being the jars of clay; God being the treasure inside of us, the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ. God calls, rescues, redeems the weak and broken so he is most glorified. We are simple, unadorned, and ordinary clay pots that God uses to bring glory to himself, yet the most persistent challenge we face is ourselves. We fear our own inadequacy more than we trust God’s sufficiency. We stumble into self-reliance, self-promotion, or self-loathing.

We need to be more preoccupied with this treasure. We need to look at the cross again and again. We need to preach the gospel to ourselves. Every time we look at the cross, Christ seems to say to us:

I am here because of you.
It is your sin I am bearing,
your curse I am suffering,
your debt I am paying,
your death I am dying.

The treasure within these jars of clay is the gospel of Christ. And this is what is encouraging:  We’re fragile; he is not. We are transient; he is not. We are weak; he is not. We need sleep; he does not. We grow weary; he does not. We lose patience; he does not. It is God’s all-surpassing power that is dramatically displayed through our weakness.

The gift is to be far more preoccupied with the treasure within than with the pressures without.

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About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
I’ve been writing a post everyday during this “40 Day Lent Challenge” and not only have I unwrapped a new wonderful gift everyday through daily readings, to write everyday has been the most challenging thing I have done in a while. Writing has been the best gift I’ve given myself in a long time. To be still, to think, to dream, to connect words on a page that have meaning and worth. Writing gives joy when we least expect it.  Writing is a gift…It is a gift handed to us from the Creator, the Writer of all good things true.

 

 

Faith, Hope, and Love

 

FAITH HOPE LOVE

Faith, Hope, and Love | 40 Gifts of Lent | Gift 26

Reflections on I Corinthians 9 – 16

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:13

I write the words of this “communion” song in remembrance of a few hours of sweet fellowship and worship with good friends, as our voices filled a small sanctuary space with the melody and words of, “All I Have is Christ.”

And the love of Christ wrapped around us while we stood close together singing. Some voices cracking and some with perfect pitch and all of it was beautiful harmony.

I woke up early this morning with the words in my head and I quickly wrote them down.

The gift for me through out today is the greatest gift of all, God’s love, the greatest of all… “I beheld God’s love displayed…now all I know is grace.”

All I Have is Christ

I once was lost in darkest night, yet thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life, had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own a rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first I would refuse You still

But as I ran my hell-bound race, indifferent to the cost
You looked upon my helpless state and led me to the cross
And I beheld God’s love displayed, you suffered in my place
You bore the wrath reserved for me, now all I know is grace

Now Lord I would be Yours alone and live so all might see
The strength to follow Your commands
Could never come from me
O Father use my ransomed life in any way you choose
And let my song forever be my only boast is You

Hallelujah all I have is Christ
Hallelujah Jesus is my life

All I Have Is Christ: Music and words by Jordan Kauflin © 2008 Sovereign Grace Praise

FAITH HOPE LOVE

 

About 40 Gifts of Lent 

I am anticipating the arrival of Easter and celebrating the most amazingly good gift I’ve ever received. I want to focus my heart on the fulfilled expectation of Christ’s first coming and the glorious expectation of His second coming. To continue reading, please go here: 40 Gifts of Lent

#LentChallenge
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